4 resolutions to save money & change spending habits

7 January 2009

Remember how crap and disappointing the majority of "post-Christmas sales" were last year? Funny how we complain about it, but I will be first to admit that I was one of the people rushing from store to store like an insane idiot, stocking up on illogical items with a yellow or red sticker, even if I didn't need it.

Just last week, I walked around PC World with a shopping cart full of items: a WD 1TB HD for under £70, a 17" laptop bag for £19, and a JVC digital camcorder for £150. And here's the irony. I already have a 17" laptop bag, 3 external HDDs, and my digital camera can do video.

So there I was, standing in a long queue waiting to check out, when I did something I've never done before. I got out of the queue, left my shopping cart, and walked out of the store empty handed. And actually felt a sense of relief.

I would say that's one of the biggest lessons I learned in '08; that wanting to have something just because it's a good deal doesn't mean I really need it. So this year, I plan to implement four "resolutions" starting now:

1. Sticking to a £100/day rule: Earlier this year, a mentor of mine suggested a money saving habit to implement.  It was to never spend over £100 for purchases in a single day. Obviously this would vary depending on your normal budget. It could be £10 or £1000, but the basic idea was to find a simple number and stick to it. So for example, say I'm planning to make a £500 purchase, no matter how 'urgent', to spend 5 days deciding whether it was a logical or emotional decision.

2. Buy only what I need: Easier said that done, especially for us HUKD addicts. This year, I've already bought a new HDTV, an HD-DVD player, 2 laptops, an iphone and a 3 dongle with a 12 month subscription. I got most of these things at a bargain, compared to the high street prices. But do I really need all these things to be happy? I suppose that's the question. So for 2009, I am going to ensure that everything I purchase has PURPOSE, FUNCTION and VALUE, and not because it's been reduced by 90%.  Everything else must go!

3. Use what you buy: My dad has worn the same watch he's had for the last 25 years. He once explained that for every day he wears the watch, it works out cheaper for him to have bought it. On the other hand, I have an HD-DVD player that I barely use (just sold it though thankfully), a gaming laptop with an awesome graphics card that I never play games on, and a 3 dongle that I use once every fortnight only to find it impossible to connect to 80% of the time. In 2009, I'm hoping to stick to only the core things I use, and judge what's valuable by how much productivity and value it generates in my life. Of course, we all enjoy having some luxury in life, so this is easier said than done.

4. Purge: One of my mental blocks is always to sell something instead of just giving it away.  And since a lot of old stuff I have just sits here in the basement collecting dust, I don't take into account the time it will take to sell / post a £5 item, nor the energy drain it has on me to define myself around these objects and material.  In 2009, I'm going through all my inventory and putting all the crap I no longer need or use in bin bags to take to a local charity shop.

If you have new year resolutions regarding your spending habits and tips on saving money and getting rid of old things, please share them in the comments below.


  • Mike H.
    It's true, it's only a bargain if you wanted it in the first place, if you still want it after a week, get it!
  • Pokey
    Usually I just read this site to laugh at the grumpy old men and women moaning their arses off for whatever reasons. However, this is probably the first post I've read on this site that has genunie relevance and logic and is a sharp observation about our consuming obssessed culture. Especially the comments about the relief you feel when your brain conquers that part of you that keeps telling you what a great deal you're getting while standing on the throat of the other part of you reminding you that you have no use for whatever you're getting a great deal on. I learned a long time ago to laugh at the thought of and resist these so called bargains. January sales are a joke. After Christmas I went looking for a new coat. All I could find was the neon coloured and furry garbage all the stores had saved up to throw into a glorified jumble sale at the end of the year, while all the decent stock that I was actually interested in was nowhere to be seen. Those people rushing into shopping centres on Boxing Day are the biggest suckers.
  • Bob
    You have a basement? Is it not a cellar?
  • Garry
    Response to Mike Hock - if you still want it after a week, it'll be gone!
  • Joe
    That is such a good post, well done! I especially find relevance in the 'do i really need it' because i have bought a Wii PS3 and new laptop in 2008 and i use only the PS3 as i have a base computer as it is, i've decided to sell the wii and hopefully if i can bring myself to do it..........the laptop. I just really have to think about the purchases i make now as 50% of my wage goes into savings so i really push myself to find bargins otherwise i wont buy it, even if its a bargin i find myself hard pushed to buy it and have to ask my gfnd her opinion as well to push me into it (Sad i know)..... All in all a good post really for those out their who are impulse buyers.
  • MB
    Blimey. You'll be telling us that you are growing your own vegetables next. I went to one post Christmas sale this year. And that was the M&S one. I took back a wallet that my wife bought me (with the receipt), and bought two different wallets of equal quality (one regular sized as my UK wallet, and one passport sized to keep my passport and Euro currency in) and a nice leather belt. And they refunded about a quid. No wonder M&S profits are down.
  • phil m.
    The problem is that you can't "afford" to wait because stuff sells out so quickly. Within a few days a TV that I bought (and was thinking of returning) had SOLD OUT EVERYWHERE! I was so happy that I managed to get one.
  • andy y.
    We must buy MORE tat not less.It is the route to economic salvation.buy borrow buy borrow .bye bye tomorrow
  • orangepants
    Buying something because its significantly reduced regardless of whether you actually want or need it seems to have been a problem with HUKD posters for years. It is almost like people get addicted to the feeling of getting a supposed 'bargain'. Look at the number of people voting PS3 or Wii games for less than a fiver as 'Hot' because they believe a PS3 game for £5 is apparently a bargain irrespective of whether it is actually a decent game or not. Like other people have pointed out though you sometimes don't have the luxury of waiting for five days to decide whether you need that bargain 40" LCD TV for your bedroom (to nicely complement the 58" one in your front room and the 32" ones in your kids rooms) because as is often the case genuine bargains disappear quickly!
  • MB
    It's true, often you don't have the opportunity to wait. But what you can do is research something you want, set a price you are willing to pay and wait for the item to drop to that price. I did this getting the Sony 32" LCD TV on HUKD on boxing day. Richer sounds had advertised it a few days before that they would drop the price to £300 although with only 1 yr warranty and collect from store. John Lewis followed suit and I was ready to jump in and buy when they did, before they sold out.
  • Tom T.
    I agree in saving up for thing you really need. I have given up buying tat that I will never use. Instead I spend the money on paying prostitutes to perform specialist sex services on me, ensuring that after each 'purchase' I feel a great sense of fulfilment and satisfaction :) My wife would never do this for me and costs me loads of money, sadly I can't trade her in :(
  • Mike H.
    BTW VVince, stop looking down the top of the bird sat next to you on the plane
  • Gus
    Once I wise man said: "For a prostitute you get what you paid for and having a wife you have to pay for the rest of your life and might not get what you want."
  • dave
    great post Vince. Fantastic tips to survive the end of the world. I think you're wrong about stuffing all the old stuff in bin bags though. I've just started shifting my old junk on Amazon. Ten million times easier than posting it on Ebay and the rubbish seems to be shifting. Sure it's a pain to walk down to the post office but the exercise does you good and the few pennies all add up for the holiday in the Summer.
  • Ducky
    I'm a bit of a lazy bum... and a bit of a cheapskate too. My daily budget is currently set at £20 per day, and my dinner is whatever I can find in the Sainsburys reduced fridge that will cook in less than half an hour... =D
  • "Don’t B.
    [...] advice highly contrasts with my previous advice on 4 resolutions to save money & change spending habits. I still plan to research the hell out of everything before I buy, as long as it makes sense from a [...]
  • Health I.
    [...] can hardly ignore it these days, but these are difficult economic times. People are now having to prioritise much more strictly where they are going to spend their hard earned cash. Obviously, this will have [...]
  • Tips B.
    [...] £100 / day keeps the consumer away. Wait one day for every £100 the prospective item costs, as discussed before. Of course, you can scale this up or down according to your [...]
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